Saturday, November 24, 2007
We just got home from a very enjoyable local food potluck (more about that later!) but all I could think about was that I had to get home and VeganMoFo! Tonight, I want to blog about one of my favorite discoveries from the last few years- elderberries! When I first moved to Syracuse, there was a magazine article about the power of elderberries and elderberry extract to treat the flu and the common cold. Well, we bought some in bulk from our local health food store in the form of dried berries. We made a simple tea with them- and guess what? They totally work! If you drink elderberry tea within the first day or so of sensing a cold coming on - you know, scratchy or sore throat, heavy head, headache, etc. - it lessens the impact of the disease, or eliminates it all together! We gave it to my aunt one day when she was visiting our house and had a cold- she drank a cup in the evening, and by the next day was markedly less miserable. Our whole family witnessed this, and now can't get enough of the stuff!
In addition to making the tea from the dried berries, you can also find elderberry extract at health food stores (although it's substantially more expensive.) Daiku and I try to remind ourselves to drink a cup of the stuff as frequently as possible, to boost our immune system. It's natural, it's inexpensive, and it's more effective than any other cold remedy that I have ever come across, so I recommend it to everybody! How does the tea taste? To me, it has a kind of prune/raisin taste, although it is not sweet like those fruits. It just has a very mellow, dried fruit kind of flavor.
Here are two articles that go into more precise detail about the nutritional benefits of elderberries:
From Article #1: "The edible berries are rich in vitamin C and get their dark color form their high anthocyanin and bioflavonoid content. They are primarily used to treat flu symptoms and as an immunostimulant."
"Acting as an antioxidant, elder may protect the body against damage from free radicals. Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries. Anthocyanins are special class of bioflavonoids, which offer powerful antioxidant protection against cellular aging. Elderberry extract reduces the damaging effects of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and serves as an antioxidant for the body."
From Article #2: " Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds, and sinusitis. Elderberry extracts have been found to have anti-viral activity in preliminary laboratory studies. A Norwegian double-blind, placebo controlled study found that elderberry syrup (15 milliliters four times a day for 5 days) was more effective than placebo at relieving symptoms and decreased the use of rescue medication."
**Warning- you should only buy commercially prepared elderberry products, since the berries, when unripe and/or raw, and much of the plant (leaves, etc.) can be poisonous.**
So go out and find some elderberries today! (Or elderberry jam, wine, syrup, candies, etc. Did you know that Sambuca is made with them...?)
And with that, yet another VeganMoFo post right under the wire- woo!